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Oposa Vs.

Factoran

EN BANC
July 30, 1993
WHY IS IT A LANDMARK CASE?

44
● Unusual petitioners

● Unusual cause of
action
Petitioners vs. Respondents
JUAN ANTONIO, ANNA ROSARIO and JOSE ALFONSO, all surnamed OPOSA, minors, and represented by their parents ANTONIO and RIZALINA OPOSA,
ROBERTA NICOLE SADIUA, minor, represented by her parents CALVIN and ROBERTA SADIUA, CARLO, AMANDA SALUD and PATRISHA, all surnamed FLORES,
minors and represented by their parents ENRICO and NIDA FLORES, GIANINA DITA R. FORTUN, minor, represented by her parents SIGRID and DOLORES
FORTUN, GEORGE II and MA. CONCEPCION, all surnamed MISA, minors and represented by their parents GEORGE and MYRA MISA, BENJAMIN ALAN V.
PESIGAN, minor, represented by his parents ANTONIO and ALICE PESIGAN, JOVIE MARIE ALFARO, minor, represented by her parents JOSE and MARIA
VIOLETA ALFARO, MARIA CONCEPCION T. CASTRO, minor, represented by her parents FREDENIL and JANE CASTRO, JOHANNA DESAMPARADO, minor,
represented by his parents GREGORIO II and CRISTINE CHARITY NARVASA, MA. MARGARITA, JESUS IGNACIO, MA. ANGELA and MARIE GABRIELLE, all
surnamed SAENZ, minors, represented by their parents ROBERTO and AURORA SAENZ, KRISTINE, MARY ELLEN, MAY, GOLDA MARTHE and DAVID IAN, all
surnamed KING, minors, represented by their parents MARIO and HAYDEE KING, DAVID, FRANCISCO and THERESE VICTORIA, all surnamed ENDRIGA, minors,
represented by their parents BALTAZAR and TERESITA ENDRIGA, JOSE MA. and REGINA MA., all surnamed ABAYA, minors, represented by their parents
ANTONIO and MARICA ABAYA, MARILIN, MARIO, JR. and MARIETTE, all surnamed CARDAMA, minors, represented by their parents MARIO and LINA
CARDAMA, CLARISSA, ANN MARIE, NAGEL, and IMEE LYN, all surnamed OPOSA, minors and represented by their parents RICARDO and MARISSA OPOSA,
PHILIP JOSEPH, STEPHEN JOHN and ISAIAH JAMES, all surnamed QUIPIT, minors, represented by their parents JOSE MAX and VILMI QUIPIT, BUGHAW CIELO,
CRISANTO, ANNA, DANIEL and FRANCISCO, all surnamed BIBAL, minors, represented by their parents FRANCISCO, JR. and MILAGROS BIBAL, and THE
PHILIPPINE ECOLOGICAL NETWORK, INC., petitioners,

THE HONORABLE FULGENCIO S. FACTORAN, JR., in his capacity as the Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and THE
HONORABLE ERIBERTO U. ROSARIO, Presiding Judge of the RTC, Makati, Branch 66, respondents.
FACTS
Oposa
Theyetprayed
al. that judgment be
rendered ordering the
Representing their generation as well as the
defendant, his agents,
generation yet unborn
representatives and other
persons acting in his behalf to:

1. Cancel all existing Timber


Licensing
Filed Agreements
a taxpayer’s (TLA) in
class suit against...
the country;

2. Cease and desist from


receiving, accepting,
processing, renewing, or
Hon. Fulgencio
appraising Factoran,
new TLAs;
then Secretary of the DENR
54%
7,100 Islands

30M Hectares
46%
Cause of action
Satellite images taken in 1987 reveal that there remained no more than 1.2 million hectares
of said rainforests or four per cent (4.0%) of the country's land area.

Surveys reveal that a mere 850,000 hectares of virgin old-growth rainforests are left,
barely 2.8% of the entire land mass of the Philippine archipelago

Public records reveal that the defendant's, predecessors have granted timber license agreements ('TLA's') to
various corporations to cut the aggregate area of 3.89 million hectares for commercial logging
purposes.
Cause of action Cause of action
At the present rate of deforestation, i.e. about 200,000 hectares per annum or 25 hectares per hour — nighttime,
Saturdays, Sundays and holidays included — the Philippines will be bereft of forest resources after the end of this ensuing
decade, if not earlier.

The adverse effects, disastrous consequences, serious


injury and irreparable damage of this continued trend of
deforestation to the plaintiff minor's generation and to
generations yet unborn are evident and incontrovertible.

The continued allowance by defendant of TLA holders to cut and deforest the remaining forest
stands will work great damage and irreparable injury to plaintiffs — especially plaintiff minors and
their successors — who may never see, use, benefit from and enjoy this rare and unique natural
resource treasure.
issues
1. Whether or not the petitioner-minors
have a cause of action in filing a
class suit to “prevent the
misappropriation or impairment of
Philippine rainforests.

1. Whether or not the original prayer of


the plaintiffs result in the
impairment of contracts.
RE: LOCUS STaNDI

YES!

● Petitioner-minors assert that they represent their generation as well as generations to come.

● The SC ruled that they can, for themselves, for others of their generation, and for the succeeding

generation, file a class suit.

● Their personality to sue in behalf of succeeding generations is based on the concept of

intergenerational responsibility insofar as the right to a balanced and healthful ecology is concerned.
RE: Cause of action
Respondents: The petitioners failed to allege a specific legal right violated by the
respondent Secretary for which any relief is provided by law.

SC: We do not agree.

The complaint focuses on one fundamental legal right -- the right to a balanced and
healthful ecology which is incorporated in Section 16 Article II of the
Constitution.

The State shall protect and advance the right


of the people to a balanced and healthful
ecology in accord with the rhythm and
harmony of nature.
RE: impairment of contracts
● The Court held that the TLA is an instrument by which
the state regulates the utilization and disposition of
forest resources to the end that public welfare is
promoted.

● It is not a contract within the purview of the due


process clause

● THUS, the non-impairment clause cannot be invoked.

● It can be validly withdrawn whenever dictated by


public interest or public welfare as in this case.
RULING
● The instant Petition is GRANTED

● The challenged Order of respondent


Judge of 18 July 1991 dismissing Civil
Case No. 90-777 is hereby SET ASIDE.

● The petitioners may therefore amend


their complaint to implead as
defendants the holders or grantees of
the questioned timber license
agreements.
trivia
Antonio A. Oposa, Jr. pioneered the
practice of Environmental Law in the
Philippines and is one of Asia’s
leading voices in the international
arena of Environmental Law. He was
conferred with Ramon Magsaysay Award in
2009 for “his path-breaking and
passionate crusade to engage Filipinos
in acts of enlightened citizenship that
maximize the power of law to protect
and nurture the environment for
themselves, their children, and
generations still to come.”